“Ciao Olga–try this!” says Giuliano Pitarri, the greengrocer at the local market who has a friendly smile and a Calabrese accent. He presents Nonna Olga with an aromatic, sunshine-hued chunk of melon from the tip of his WÜSTHOF Amici Paring Knife. “I got the cantaloupe fresh from Francesco this morning. He picked it yesterday.”
Nonna Olga reaches out to Giuliano, smiling, to pluck the melon from its perch. They have known each other for so long that their food delights can be shared without words.
“A good meal starts with fresh ingredients, good knives and tried-and-tested recipes,” says Giuliano. “It’s easy to get convenience food from the supermarket, especially if you have a large family, but only freshly prepared vegetables have that right bite, that freshness.”
The city of Castello, tucked amongst the hills in the province of Perugia, Italy, is a fertile, hilly landscape not far from the foot of The Pollino, a massif in the southern Apennines. It’s an ecological paradise for indigenous fruits and vegetables. The area is known for the ‘cipolla rossa di Tropea’, a mild, gently sweet onion famous far beyond Calabria, as well as olives, bergamot oranges, peaches, potatoes, and ripe, juicy tomatoes.
Nonna Olga has come to Giuliano’s shop for inspiration; she’s planning a feast at Castello di Serragiumenta for family and friends later that evening. As she and Giuliano chat about classic local dishes and traditional family recipes, her basket begins to fill with the abundance of the region, and the menu is decided little by little. Nonna Olga invites Giuliano to tonight’s feast, naturally; good friends are always included in Calabria.